The Caldwell County Board of Education approved an interim budget Thursday that allows the school system to continue paying its bills until state legislators, certain to miss their Sunday deadline, settle on a tax and budget plan.
The new budget year begins Monday, but it’s next to impossible for the school system to adopt a budget without knowing what its funding will be from both county and state sources. The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners adopted the county budget June 18, but the state House and Senate are still haggling over the details of tax reform and budget plans, which could affect some of the revenues that the school system depends on.
Whatever happens, the Caldwell County Schools are expecting a budget figure that remains more or less flat from the current budget year, Finance Officer Karla Miller said. After a year of amendments, the 2012-13 budget expenditures rested at $117.1 million, including four amendments made Thursday night.
The various budget proposals at the state level – by the House, Senate and Gov. Pat McCrory – all include cuts for K-12 education. The Caldwell County Schools expect cuts to teacher assistants no matter which version of the budget passes, Miller said. McCrory’s budget would cut about 3,000 teacher assistant jobs across the state, with more jobs cut by the Senate version and fewer cut by the House.
“To me, the most significant point is the cuts to teacher assistants,” Miller said. “That’s just concerning, because it impacts students. It’s not something we want to see happen.”
The Caldwell County Schools currently employ 208 state- and locally funded teacher assistants. Superintendent Steve Stone was out of town on Thursday, but in the past has said he’s not prepared to speculate on how many teacher assistants would be affected locally.
Miller said she doesn’t expect raises for teachers and other school employees in this year’s budget. The governor’s budget proposed 1 percent raises for state employees, including teachers, while the House and Senate versions wouldn’t provide any raises.
The school district starts its budget planning in the early spring, using tentative planning allotments they receive from the state, Miller said. But a firm budget measure won’t be presented or passed until a state budget has been approved.
The school system had asked the county for a $239,000 increase in recurring funds, and a one-time allocation of $100,000 for the Patterson Science Center. In its final budget, the county provided a $50,000 increase and $25,000 for Patterson.